DANTON
1983, Janus Films, 136 min, France, Poland, West Germany, Dir: Andrzej Wajda

Directed by Andrzej Wajda while in exile, the Polish filmmaker's French-language debut is an adaptation of "The Danton Affair," written in the 1920s by Communist playwright Stanislawa Przybyszewska. After the French Revolution, Paris suffers under the Reign of Terror as the government of the ruthless Maximilien de Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak) intimidates all opponents. Georges Danton (Gérard Depardieu), former friend of the leader, seeks an end to the bloodshed and, joined by Camille Desmoulins (writer-director Patrice Chéreau in his first acting role), attempts to bring peace to the streets of the capital. For his efforts, Danton is imprisoned, and awaits the guillotine with steely resolve. In French with English subtitles. "I do not know of any play or movie that has ever come so close to suggesting the fascinating complexity of the French Revolution." - Andrew Sarris, Village Voice


CYRANO DE BERGERAC
1990, Orion Classics, 135 min, France, Dir: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Seventeenth-century France is the setting for this great tragicomic, swashbuckling film. Cyrano (Gérard Depardieu) is a soldier-poet, expert in fighting but shy in love and embarrassed by his large nose. He must vie with the powerful Comte de Guiche and the handsome Christian for the love of the gorgeous Roxane. This is certainly the greatest version of Edmond Rostand’s famed play, with an incredible lead performance by Depardieu. The film was nominated for several Oscars and won many Cesars, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Film. In French with English subtitles.


THE VALLEY OF THE BEES
UDOLI VCEL
1967, 97 min, Czechoslovakia, Dir: Frantisek Vlacil

Often ranked with Bergman and Tarkovsky for the power of his depictions of medieval life, Vlacil explores the grip of fanaticism in THE VALLEY OF THE BEES. Young Ondrej grows to manhood in a harsh religious order where, with a hint of homoerotic tension, a Teutonic knight and veteran of the crusades becomes his mentor. Ondrej flees this life, settling in the castle of his childhood to marry his father's young widow, but his unforgiving mentor is prepared to pursue him to the ends of the earth. With Petr Cepek, Jan Kacer. In Czech with English subtitles.


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